The freeze along the Texas cost last February is a distant memory, when some areas were closed to fishing until the threat was over.

When temperatures on the coast are predicted to fall below 32 degrees for three or more days, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director has the authority to close some areas to saltwater fishing until the threat from the freeze event is over.

But when a closure occurs, this doesn’t mean all fishing is closed. It simply means that a few deepwater harbors and canals may be closed to angling if freezing conditions warrant it.

In addition to killing game fish in shallow bay waters, these hard freeze events can cause surviving fish to congregate in a few deeper areas where they become sluggish and prone to capture. These are the areas the department may temporarily close.

“The high mortality that a freeze can cause may deplete fish stocks for years,” said Robin Riechers, TPWD coastal fisheries division director. “Protection of the surviving fish during the few days when they are especially vulnerable to capture would likely shorten the time period for overall recovery of coastal species, especially spotted seatrout.”

Game fish, including spotted seatrout, red drum, sharks, snook and tripletail may only be taken by pole and line, and it is unlawful to take or attempt to take a fish with one or more hooks attached to a line or artificial lure used in a manner to foul-hook a fish. It is also unlawful to collect stunned fish including the use of a cast net or dip net.

Notices will be made through signs near the closed areas, in social media like Facebook and Twitter and through the news media. For a complete list of these thermal refuge areas subject to closure go to the TPWD Saltwater Freeze Events web page.

Reports of fish kills or large numbers of sluggish or cold-stunned fish may be made by contacting TPWD’s Law Enforcement Communications office at (281) 842-8100 or (512) 389-4848.

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